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Old 09-10-2007, 10:16 PM   #1
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1968 30' Sovereign
Belleville , Ontario
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Frame sag?

Hello everyone, I'm a little new to Airstreams (3 months now) and I hope you can answer a question for me. I've read in books and heard a few times that rear bathroom Airstreams can develop "rear frame sag". Mine is a 1968 30' Int'l Sovereign... how can I determine if mine has this problem? If it does, can I ignore it or should it be repaired? How is a repair done?
The reason I ask is that I'm installing all new flooring this winter, at the same time the bathroom needs some "freshening". I may go as far as to pull up the floor and replace the black water tank and thought this may be the time to figure this out.
Thanks everyone! What a great site!
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Old 09-10-2007, 10:32 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by menormy
Hello everyone, I'm a little new to Airstreams (3 months now) and I hope you can answer a question for me. I've read in books and heard a few times that rear bathroom Airstreams can develop "rear frame sag". Mine is a 1968 30' Int'l Sovereign... how can I determine if mine has this problem? If it does, can I ignore it or should it be repaired? How is a repair done?
The reason I ask is that I'm installing all new flooring this winter, at the same time the bathroom needs some "freshening". I may go as far as to pull up the floor and replace the black water tank and thought this may be the time to figure this out.
Thanks everyone! What a great site!
Rear end sag, is when the frame at the rear of the trailer, has pulled away from the shell. The shell holds the frame up.

Can you ignore it? Absolutely not. When the frame separates at the rear it also exposes the floor to the weather. That results in a rotten floor at the rear, which will allow the frame to drop even more.

The black water tank is replaced from the bottom of the floor, not the top.

To overhaul the bathroom, if the trailer has any form of rear end separation, is a huge waste of time, and money.

If your not sure, stand on the bumper. Jump up and down, and have someone watch the frame as it goes under the shell at the rear. If it moves at all, then there is frame separation, to some degree or other.

Take a couple of close up photos of that area and post them here.

I, along with others, will be glad to help you.

With winter approaching, you should also make sure that the trailer is water tight, before you consider any form of floor repair.

Check the window gaskets, entrance door gaskets, access compartment gaskets, vent cover gaskets, sewer vent pipe covers, refrigerator vent cover and the stove exhaust vent cover.

Also check the clearance lights and make sure they are sealed correctly.

Andy
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Old 09-12-2007, 10:19 AM   #3
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Hello, thanks for the advice! I went out to jump on my bumper and, well, I didn't need to jump - I just had to push it. There's a lot of movement there, I would definitely say my poor old Airstream has that "rear frame sag". That sucks, but oh well, I'll fix it. I knew I bought a project when I bought the old beast, that was my intention as I prefer the old ones to the new ones - lighter, narrower, and I prefer the 68's squared windows. Not to mention the budgeted $15-20G to restore the old one is still about $60G less that a new 30+ footer, that feels better on my bank account.
I can't take pictures right now as the camera has gone missing, I'll ask the other half when she gets home from work where it has gone. In the meantime, I now know what to look for! When I push on the bumper and look underneath, it's moving above the aluminum pan beneath the bathroom - that doesn't seem good. It looks as though it's been this way a long time as the pan beneath has actually stretched and torn a small amount from the bumper brackets. This also explains why the blue trim that rivets the bottom pan to the walls is kinda "wonky" at the back, it has come loose in spots. I guess there's no simple re-riveting there!
So, what is my next step? I would assume that I need to remove the pan beneath the trailer, and work from there. Is it as extensive as replacing a section of frame? Or, can I straighten and re-inforce the frame by welding/bolting onto the existing? Do I need to open up the inside? I hope not. Is this a common problem in these old A/S's?
I have removed the carpeting and linoleum already, the floor is not rotten although there is a water stain where the black tank roof vent has leaked at some point. It has been dry since I have owned it and the wood is solid. The trailer as of two days ago is under two of those tent canopy enclosures so the roof stays dry.
I'll attach a pic of the back of the trailer when I find the camera. I always wondered why there was a gap beneath the hatch at the back... My other regular use trailer is the simple wood on frame construction, I didn't think to check for this. We also have a truck camper, so it's a good thing we won't need the old Airstream for a few years. I just hope this can be repaired and not re-occur...
Thanks again for your help! Without you guys I wouldn't have picked up on this.
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Old 09-12-2007, 01:30 PM   #4
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Hello, here are some pics. In light of the issues I decided to support the back of the trailer with the jacks. I'm glad I did, the floor doesn't make any noise any longer and when I used to enter the bathroom the ceiling would make small snapping sounds.
So, what do I do next? Should I remove the pan, flooring and call a welder in?
Thanks!!
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Old 09-12-2007, 01:34 PM   #5
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Sorry, my dial-up is not letting me send pics...
Ryan
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Old 09-22-2007, 01:11 AM   #6
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Hello,

I am also among the ranks of vintage airstream owners with frame separation. I didn't think the 60's trailers were prone to this type of breakdown when I bought my project, so I didn't inspect that issue very closely. The photo below shows the 3/8" gap that exists between the aluminum and the steel frame. Since my project is static for a couple of years, I have chosen to leave this be for a future, more extensive retoration. I reinforced the floor from underneath where there was rot below the old toilet. The plywood patch spans between frames.

I am trying to figure out a way to waterproof the joint in the meantime with flashing and sealant. It still has to look good afterall, it is an airstream.

This trailer of mine was ridden very hard on some gravel roads. The front aluminum is hammered with gravel dings and the belly skin has been tortured. The original gas lines looked like they had been gnawed on. Those rough roads would cause this kind of separation in any trailer I imagine. The inner aluminum behind the wheel wells has been upset and I am lucky that I don't have a more seriously bent frame (at least I don't think that I do at this point.) It will be fun to diagnose when I have the resources to put this one back on the road.


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Old 09-22-2007, 06:23 AM   #7
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Just a slight off topic question. Andy commented about sealing the trailer and I'm wondering how you seal those running lights. Mine have weep holes and I'm never sure if you should leave those open, seal all around or remove the lense and seal around the wiring. Any suggestions?
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juel
Just a slight off topic question. Andy commented about sealing the trailer and I'm wondering how you seal those running lights. Mine have weep holes and I'm never sure if you should leave those open, seal all around or remove the lense and seal around the wiring. Any suggestions?
He is talking about taking the whole unit off and sealing underneath. You don't need to seal between the lens and base. The weep holes are there for condensation to drain out.

Back to the main topic.
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Old 09-22-2007, 11:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juel
Just a slight off topic question. Andy commented about sealing the trailer and I'm wondering how you seal those running lights. Mine have weep holes and I'm never sure if you should leave those open, seal all around or remove the lense and seal around the wiring. Any suggestions?

Remove all the clearance lights, so that you can removed the dirt that has cdollected behind them.

Might be a good time to replace old clearance lights with new, or with LED's.

All clearance lights are sealed on the backside where the wire goes thru the shell. Vulkem works well.

After reinstalling the clearance lights, sealer the top and both side of the lights. DO NOT SEAL THE BOTTOM.

Par bond works well for that job.

Andy
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Old 09-26-2007, 06:58 PM   #10
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What's the best way to repair frame sag? does the coach have to be gutted and the body removed ?
Can the belly be removed and the work done from below? My globetrotter has a problem with the street(port) side of the frame .The floor in the bathroom seems ok .I was going to do minor repairs where needed with west systems epoxy on the plywood and attact the problem from below .Everything I have seen shows the body or at least the floor removed
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:05 PM   #11
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Port side, using west system...hmm...could I guess you mess around with boats as well? My other weakness is aluminum boats thus the thought. I recall some extensive frame work on the site which. I know there are some sout hearted folks out there who have even shortened their Airstreams. I also read that there was a retro as well. Can't ignore it, but the only thing that stands in the way of repairing a sag is time, and tanasity. (Oh yes, skill and money too...but never say never!

rob n terry
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:38 PM   #12
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Thanks Andy. Now back to the main topic. Sorry I just have always wondered about sealing those. I will be bringing the 31ft Sovereign home in about a month. Very interested in this topic. It's a rear bedroom, so I'm hoping this is not as big a problem.
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Old 09-27-2007, 07:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowldawg
What's the best way to repair frame sag? does the coach have to be gutted and the body removed ?
Can the belly be removed and the work done from below? My globetrotter has a problem with the street(port) side of the frame .The floor in the bathroom seems ok .I was going to do minor repairs where needed with west systems epoxy on the plywood and attact the problem from below .Everything I have seen shows the body or at least the floor removed
Different floor damages require different approaches.

Can you be more specific, and/or post some photo's of the damaged area?

Also, and equaly important, is to identify and correct the cause of the floor damage, before any repair attempts are made.

Andy
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Old 09-27-2007, 08:56 AM   #14
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Well, durn, too bad you're not coming to the rally here this weekend. We could look at the rig and give you some tips on how to fix it. It sure is a lot easier to do in person rather than via the forum!

Lynn
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